Being an older American, you may have had the same doctor for years. Like many people over-50, you may have stayed with your doctor out of loyalty, or because you feel that one doctor is as good as the next, or you’re too busy to look for a new one. Yet, if you stay with your doctor for any other reason than you genuinely like him and have faith in his advice and opinions, you might want to consider looking for a new doctor. The following scenarios are based on AARP’s recent 6 reasons why you might shop for a new doctor.
1. Dismissive. When you tell your doctor about certain symptoms, do they seem like they’re not listening? Do they blow your concerns off as age-related with statements like, “You’re no spring chicken anymore, or, these things are common for people your age”.
2. Cannot Do Anything. Whether it’s trying an alternative therapy, a different medication, seeking the consult of another doctor, some other approach to your symptoms, condition, can always be tried. A doctor who says ‘nothing can be done’ is not putting enough effort into you.
3. In/Out Appointment. Does your doctor come in for 10 minutes and then gone, especially after you may have been waiting for an hour or more? Unless you just have a minimal-need visit, like renewing a prescription, or taking your blood pressure, your doctor shouldn’t have one foot out the door each time they see you. If you leave your appointment with unaddressed concerns, unanswered questions, find a doctor who will spend as much time as you need.
4. Prescription Pusher. Does your doctor pull out their prescription pad for symptoms without any probative discussion, or follow up tests, if necessary? For example: “I haven’t been sleeping very well lately and have been having bad dreams.” Doctor’s response: “No problem, here’s a little something to help you sleep.” Also, how many prescriptions do you take? If it’s more than a few, you should get a second opinion about whittling these down. Polypharmacy (too many prescriptions) issues land older people in the hospital more often than actual illnesses.
5. Treatments Don’t Fit Your Lifestyle. Does your doctor give you prescriptions that make you drowsy even though you’ve told them that you work, and drive a car, during the day? Does he hand you a standard 1200-calorie diet sheet without going over it, or trying to customize it to work with foods that are within your budget? “Rubber stamping” or “assembly lining” your care into “one-size fits-all” regimens not only is impractical but could poorly impact your safety.
6. No improvement. Despite being prescribed many drugs, referrals to specialists, numerous tests and procedures, you have little-to-no improvement. You may want to seek your own choice of doctors for other opinions.
AARP, August/September 2013, Signs it Might Be Time to Find A New Doctor.